Thinking about Virginia Tech


Thinking about Virginia Tech


I'd been thinking about starting this blog up again for a few weeks now. I didn't think I'd have something so tragic to write about.

Probably it goes without saying that my thoughts and best wishes go out to the students, faculty, and staff at my alma mater, Virginia Tech, and especially to the families and friends of the victims.

I was working from home today, heads down with all my external inputs (radio, TV, email, IRC, RSS feeds, etc.) turned off, so it wasn't until mid-afternoon that I became aware of what had happened. It has shaken me up, more than I would have expected it would.

It's disconcerting to see a community that you've been part of suffer an event like this, especially when you see so many images on the news of places you're quite familiar with. When I was a student at Virginia Tech, I had friends who lived on the 4th floor Ambler-Johnston Hall, where the first shooting took place. I had classes in Norris Hall, where the second shooting occurred. I know these places. They were my places. It was my community. Even though I've been gone from Tech for a long time, it still hits close to home.

Back in &#39;88-&#39;89 I was one of the editors of the <a href=""><em>Collegiate Times</em></a>, Virginia Tech&#39;s student newspaper. I&#39;ve thought a lot about the students working at the <em>Collegiate Times</em> today. What was the biggest story we dealt with back in &#39;88-&#39;89? I think a steroids scandal on one of the sports teams. Nothing to compare to what happened today. What a time it must be for those young, aspiring journalists. How difficult it must be to cover what will probably be the biggest story of your life when you are just twenty or twenty-one. Doubly difficult since it is the slaughter of your classmates that you have to cover. As young journalists they must feel a great deal of excitement at The Big Story . . . and, at the same time, a great deal of guilt and dread for being excited while their friends lay dead. I hope they sense the importance of their role of as the student voice of the Virginia Tech campus more than ever. (<a href=""></a> is down, and the server is re-directing to <a href=""></a>, the parent site for the student media outlets at Tech. And I just noticed that the <em>Collegiate Times</em> Online Editor, who has been posting to <a href=""></a> all afternoon is named Christopher Ritter. No relation, if you were wondering.)

Besides my former professors, I only know a couple of people still at Virginia Tech. None of them were likely to have been in either of the buildings where the shootings took place, but I&#39;ve dropped them emails anyway. And I&#39;ve been contacted today by former classmates who I haven&#39;t heard from in years. When something like this happens, you start thinking about the people who shared your life then and you want to reach out to them, even if you&#39;ve been silent for years, because their the only ones who are going to understand your loss in the same way.

The news reports are saying that this is the worst shooting on a college campus in American history. Oddly, one of the other campus massacres that has been mentioned repeatedly was a <a href="">1991 shooting</a> rampage by a physics grad student (who also killed himself) at the University of Iowa, where I went to graduate school. My other alma mater. That took place just three months after I left Iowa City, and, unlike today&#39;s tragedy at VT, I knew many people who were on campus at that time.

Then a few years back, in the fall of 2000, <a href=",9171,1101010625-130940,00.html">a student murdered one of his classmates</a> at Gallaudet University, and went un-apprehended for months until he killed again in February. I had worked at Gallaudet for three years and left just a bit more than a year before the murders there. Again, I was gone, but, again, I knew many people affected by this. It wasn&#39;t the kind of rampage like at Iowa or Virginia Tech, but it held the campus hostage to fear nonetheless.

So this is the third time I&#39;ve watched a campus where I have lived, studied, or worked be victimized by a murderer.

It sucks. It sucks for me, it makes me cry to see a community -- <i>my community</i> -- ravaged, even after I&#39;ve been absent from it for years

And as miserable and helpless as I feel, I can&#39;t imagine how horrible it is for those living through it.

Posted by Greg on April 16, 2007 10:48 PM


Original Source: <a href=""></a>

Licensed under <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0</a>.


Greg Ritter




Brent Jesiek


Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0




Greg Ritter, “Thinking about Virginia Tech,” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 16, 2024,